Help and advice for dealing with damp and mould in the home
Tenants and homeowners in Worcester are urged to keep an eye out for damp and mould in their houses; to know how to make simple changes which can reduce the issue - and when to call in the experts.
Most homes suffer from damp to some degree, usually caused by condensation in the home. However, if the problem is excessive, it could be caused by issues such as poor insulation, leaking gutters or downpipes, inefficient heating systems or other problems which need repair or remedy by a trusted tradesperson.
To help prevent damp and mould problems, houses should be adequately heated, well-insulated, draught-proofed, and well ventilated, allowing air circulation throughout. If windows have trickle vents, these should be opened and fan ventilation should be turned on in bathrooms and kitchens while in use.
Condensation is the most common cause of dampness in a house and is caused when water vapour comes into contact with a cold surface – hence it is often found on mirrors, the inside of windows or an uninsulated solid wall. Water vapour which causes this is produced by household activities such as cooking, drying clothes indoors, or bathing. Condensation can be reduced by wiping down windows and sills in the morning and wringing out the cloth, rather than drying it on a radiator.
Damp or condensation can lead to mould growth which appears as a patch of little black dots, and a build-up of mould can cause health issues especially respiratory illness. If a build-up of mould has occurred, it can be removed using diluted bleach or a special fungicidal wash, using appropriate protection such as rubber gloves and safety glasses. Specialist paint can be applied to help delay the growth of mould.
Other types of damp include penetrating damp, where water makes its way into a building from outside, from leaking rainwater pipes, damaged roofing, gaps around windows or defective brickwork or rendering. Rising damp can occur in solid walls or in cavity walls if the damp course fails and is where ground water rises through the walls of your house creating a 'tide mark' up to 1 metre from the floor.
If you live in rented accommodation and are concerned about damp or mould in your home, the first step to take is to contact your landlord. If you don't receive a satisfactory response in a reasonable timeframe, you can contact Worcester City Council's Private Sector Housing.
If it is identified by officers that your property is in disrepair, the Council will contact the landlord, and if the disrepair presents a significant risk to health, the team will take further action.
Councillor Jabba Riaz, chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee, said: "Excessive damp in a property can be a cause for concern and if left untreated, can cause health problems, so it is important that householders take some simple steps to minimise the problem where possible – and to know when to call in the experts if the situation is more serious.
"The tragic case of Awaab Ishak, the Rochdale two-year-old who died after exposure to damp and mould, has highlighted the urgent need to address these issues. More and more Worcester tenants are contacting us regarding this issue, hence the need to offer advice and support."
Rachel Jones, CEO at Act on Energy said "The cost of living crisis has got everyone worried about their energy bills and there has rightly been a focus on making sure that people can afford to feel warm and well in their homes. But just as being too cold is damaging to health, living in a home where damp and mould can take hold is equally of concern."
More tips on how to minimise the risks.
Act on Energy is a Midlands based charity with more than 20 years' experience offering energy advice and support. The charity offers free and impartial advice to residents across the Worcestershire and the West Midlands with their energy bills and energy debt; ways to reduce bills; energy saving tips and energy efficiency grants and funding. The freephone advice line 0800 988 2881 is available Mon-Fri 9-5.